As the holidays approach, the concept of giving and receiving gifts piques your children’s interests. Creating gifts together is a great way to teach your children the concept of giving—they create something they’re proud of and then give it away for the sake of someone else’s joy. Try this easy DIY activity with your children to make heartfelt, homemade gifts.
Here’s what you need:
Here’s what you do:
Gather all of your materials. Many plastic to-go boxes, cups, and container lids are made of number 6 plastic. Ask your children to search for usable materials by locating the recycling arrows on a plastic item and checking for the number 6 inside those arrows.
Place the oven rack in the lowest position and preheat your oven to 350°F. Take the foil paper and create a platter by bending the four sides up. Ask your children to help you. This is also an opportunity to ask them what shape the foil is, how many sides it has, and even measure it with a ruler. When you’re done making the platter, set it aside.
Depending on the age of your children, either cut the plastic into the shape they desire or let them cut it. To start off, keep your shapes basic, such as circles, squares, hearts, stars, ovals, and rectangles. Once you get the hang of it, you can get creative and cut the plastic into more non-traditional shapes. Remember that the shape is going to shrink to about one third of its size, so cut it oversized.
Next, your children can decorate the plastic shapes with permanent markers. They can draw free-hand or trace their favorite designs or images. Placing a sheet of paper underneath the shape will help your children see their artwork better and will also help prevent that permanent marker from getting on your table.
Discuss with your children how to string the gift, be it a necklace, bracelet, or ornament. Then take the hole-puncher and punch a hole in the place where your children want the string or yarn to go. Do not add the string yet.
Let your children place the plastic shapes onto the foil platter.
Then place the tray on the lowest rack in the oven. Turn the oven light on so your children can see the magic happening. It only takes about two to four minutes for the plastic shape to shrink and be ready, so keep an eye on it. Ask your children to track the time with you.
Using the tongs, remove the foil platter from the oven. After allowing the Shrinky Dinks to cool, add the string, yarn, or ribbon to the hole you made earlier. Now it’s time to wrap the gift and give it to the recipient.
In addition to spending time together and learning about giving, this is also an opportunity to ask questions that can support your children’s learning. They can measure, tell time, count, name shapes and colors, read instructions, and more. This activity shows your children that learning is not only useful but also fun.
Lastly, remember to let your inner child come out and play. Be as creative and silly as your heart desires. The holidays are a time for joy, and there is great joy in making fun and loving memories with your children.